Tiffany went from reluctant kombucha drinker to passionate producer and distributor. See how Tiffany landed in the world of kombucha creation and how her mentor guided her in crucial decision-making processes that paved the way for promoting health and wellness in her community through her business, Yumcha.

 


 

What is Yumcha?

 

Yumcha produces small batch kombucha that only uses fresh cold press fruit and herbs for flavouring. It starts with a blend of organic teas, raw cane sugar and the kombucha culture and ends with a slightly tart, carbonated drink.

 

It all started when my best friend was trying to convince me to drink kombucha for my health.

 

Sounds like your business started as an accident!

 

I was not an immediate fan of kombucha, but my friend reminded me that if we can drink alcohol for fun then we can drink kombucha for the love of our bodies. Soon after that, I set out to create a “beginner” kombucha that would be a way to introduce this elixir into my everyday life.

 

It honestly started as a hobby just to give myself a creative outlet while working a part-time job and struggling with some health issues. I found that I was most excited when I was brewing and experimenting with flavors so my partner jokingly suggested start a hobby business since I was having such a good time.

 

One day my obsession took over and I made WAY too many bottles. Now I’m in the process of securing a larger commercial space and building our own custom kitchen with a retail space! I also think a part of my boyfriend was tired of having about 60 bottles of kombucha taking up our tiny apartment sized fridge at any given time.

 

Were you afraid to start your own business?

 

Do you remember the scene in Friends where Rachel makes an awful trifle but none of her friends wanted to hurt her feelings so instead they lied to her?

 

That was my biggest fear.

 

I was so worried that my friends and family were just being nice and were secretly pouring it out.

 

I think that self-doubt is a common fear for many new entrepreneurs. Eventually it becomes constructive. The most difficult part is trying not to be a perfectionist every step of the way.

 

What part of the process did you find particularly challenging?

 

My biggest challenge has been learning to say no and really doing what is best for Yumcha.

I was recently negotiating a space to lease and some of the landlord’s terms were not going to work with my business model. They were very nice and tried to make it work, however I knew I had to walk away from the deal. It was very tough decision because there were so many attributes that would have been perfect, but it also presented with some major issues that would not be desirable in the long run. Nobody knows my business better than myself so I knew I had to listen my gut.

 

I really believe a lot of my decision had to do with my mentor. He was very supportive and helped me look at the situation from a logical point of view that allowed me to consider the details I would not have necessarily thought of by myself.

 

Futurpreneur mentor Juan with Tiffany Chu of Yumcha Natural Foods

How important has your mentor been to the whole process?

 

I don’t think I truly understood what a mentor did before I started working with Futurpreneur. Now I understand that they are people you can go to when you’re unsure of yourself or when you need someone with real-world experience who is willing to let you pick their brain.

 

The best part is that mentors are usually passionate about what they do and are volunteers so they want you to succeed as much as you want yourself to succeed.

 

Juan is the most passionate person I have ever met. He lives and breathes business, and he also is really good at taking time to rest and enjoy his life. One of the most important lessons he has taught me was to work hard but also take time to enjoy yourself.

 

We work well together because he is supportive and doesn’t push me too hard but questions me and the steps I’m taking. He teaches me to critically think my decisions through.

 

Can you tell us about your biggest mistake and what you learned from it?

 

My biggest mistake happened at home when I was still doing testing before I started Yumcha. I had always heard of kombucha bottles exploding but by this point I had tested out over 15 types of bottles and had no problems.

 

One day while at home my partner and I heard a loud pop. Some curse words were exchanged and I went to check on the kombucha that was sitting in a cabinet above my fridge. Everything looked fine and intact but there was kombucha leaking from somewhere.

 

I picked up the bottle closest to me and the moment I lifted it I knew I made a mistake – I was able to pick up the bottle but the bottom was still sitting in the cabinet.

 

I took away four things from that moment:

 

  1. Plain kombucha is a great kitchen cleaner, similar to vinegar.
  2. I never truly understood the air pressure science experiment in eighth grade until now. It’s real. Don’t test it over your face.
  3. Experience isn’t everything. Always do your own research. I had experimented with so many bottles without a problem that I assumed any glass bottle would be fine. I was wrong and there are reasons why all carbonated drink bottles have a similar shape.
  4. Remember to laugh when mistakes happen. It makes it easier.

 

Best thing about what you do?

 

It’s the look on someone’s face when they purchase a bottle of kombucha from me. It’s so rewarding to see people enjoy the product and really makes all those late nights worth it.

 

Words of wisdom for new and aspiring entrepreneurs?

 

Entrepreneurial life is lonely. Sometimes it’s hard to talk to friends and families about the struggles of starting a business. This is not because they do not care, but it’s truly a unique experience and not everyone will understand the difficulties and road blocks you face opening a new business.

 

Find other entrepreneurs who are in the same boat because they will be your people. It’s important to find other business owners, not only for networking and collaboration, but also just as people you can talk to who will understand the struggles and celebrate the little victories with you that may seem trivial to the regular person.

 

They will remind you that everything you are doing is worth it.

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